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Isles claim Evgeni Nabokov

 The Islanders have claimed goaltender Evgeni Nabokov off waivers.

Although the 35-year-old Russian netminder signed a one-year deal with Detroit as a free agent Thursday night, he had to first clear waivers.

Speculation arose quickly that he would not, especially given his modest price tag (Detroit signed him for $570,00, which pro-rated works out to roughly $250,000 for rest of year). A source told Newsday Thursday that the Islanders were interested.

Although other teams may have also been interested in snatching Nabokov from the Red Wings, priority with waiver claims is given to the team lowest in the standings. That means neither Edmonton or New Jersey (the two teams beneath the Islanders) put in a claim and the Islanders essentially received first dibs.

Whether Nabokov will actually report to the Islanders now is another issue entirely. When reached by telephone Friday, Nabokov's agent, Don Meehan, did not want to speculate on that hypothetical.

The Islanders do not have the option of simply trading him, however. He must first be put through waivers and, because a no-move clause was included in his contract with Detroit, the Islanders would also need his consent to place him on waivers.

So general manager Garth Snow must have the intent of actually using Nabokov for the remainder of the season. How he plans to use the former All Star and Vezina Trophy finalist is not immediately known. It is also unclear at this time whether Nathan Lawson's left knee injury, suffered in the first period of last night's 5-2 win over the Sabres, had any impact on Snow's decision.

 The Islanders goaltending position has been in a significant state of flux of late. With veteran Dwayne Roloson gone--the Islanders traded him to Tampa Bay earlier this month--coach Jack Capuano has been doling out starts between Rick DiPietro and rookies Lawson and Kevin Poulin in recent weeks.

DiPietro, who returned Monday from a five-game absence due to a groin strain, has also recently been  battling the flu, which caused him to miss Friday's trip to Buffalo.

Nabokov, who recorded 293 wins over a ten-year career with San Jose, became a free agent in December when he was released from his contract with SKA St. Petersburg of Russia's KHL. He posted an 8-8-5 record in 22 games for St. Petersburg with a 3.02 goals against average and a .888 save percentage.

Because Nabokov played this season professionally in another league besides the NHL, he required waivers after signing with Detroit.

The Islanders also claimed Michael Grabner off waivers this October.


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